Influential Spheres: Examining Actors’ Perceptions of Education Governance

Michael Thier, Joanna Smith, Christine Pitts, Ross Anderson


Many layers of education governance press upon U.S. schools, so we separated state actors into those internal to and those external to the system. In the process, we unpacked the traditional state–local dichotomy. Using interview data (n = 45) from six case-study states, we analyzed local leaders’, state-internal actors’, and state-external players’ perceptions of implementation flexibility and hindrances across several policy areas. We observed how interviewees’ spheres of influence linked to which policy areas they viewed as salient or not, and their relative emphases
on who and what within state education systems contributed to implementation flexibility and/or hindrances, and how these factors played out. We found important differences by sphere: the local sphere produced the most coherent findings, and state-internal was least coherent. We discuss implications for education governance research, applications for practitioners and policymakers, and a methodological contribution.


education governance, education policy, state and local perspectives

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2017 Michael Thier, Joanna Smith, Christine Pitts, Ross Anderson

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.